Last month (November 2011) the National Alliance for Caregiving released the results of a study entitled Caregiving Costs: Declining Health in the Alzheimer's Caregiver as Dementia Increases in the Care Recipient.
The study showed an alarming decrease in the health of a caregiver for a family member with Alzheimer's disease or dementia as the dementia increased. This study indicated that the strain of caring for an elderly loved one with dementia can cause the family caregiver to use medical services at a much higher rate than a non-caregiver of the same age. All types of health services used increased over the length of the study (18 months), but ER visits and hospital based services doubled. Average annual costs per caregiver for health services increased by $4677.
This does not factor in the financial costs of lost work, decreased savings or lower contributions to pension funds. In light of this study and others on the hidden costs of caregiving, it makes sense for families to explore ways to use paid caregivers for respite or part-time help in easing the stress for families caring for loved ones.
For more information on this study go to: www.caregiving.org
Published on December 16, 2011.